Food retailer Meijer Inc. and wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc. have pledged to reduce food loss and waste in their organizations by 50% by 2030, joining a coalition of U.S. Food and Waste Loss 2030 Champions as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The commitment and action of these businesses will help the U.S. move closer to the national goal, protect and save valuable resources, and improve food system efficiencies while reducing waste.
Meijer, the retailer based in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Providence, R.I.-based UNFI join the list of existing 2030 Champions, which includes Ahold Delhaize, Amazon, Aramark, Blue Apron, Bon Appetit, Browns Superstores, Campbells, Compass Group, ConAgra, Farmstead, General Mills, Giant Eagle, Hello Fresh, Hilton, Kellogg’s, Kroger, Las Vegas Sands, Marley Spoon, MGM Resorts, Mom’s Organic Market, Pepsico, Sodexo, Sprouts, The Wendy’s Co,, Unilever, Walmart, Walt Disney World, Wegmans, Weis, Whitsons, and Yum Brands.
“Businesses are leaders in innovation, and we applaud Meijer and UNFI for taking a leadership role in reducing food loss and waste,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We encourage more manufacturers, grocers, restaurants and other businesses to become U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions.”
“Unfortunately, most of America’s current daily waste is in fact wasted food,” added EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We welcome Meijer and UNFI to our Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions program. Their efforts and leadership will help us reach our national goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030.”
“With millions of American families struggling every day to access sufficient, nutritious food, it is simply unacceptable that so much is wasted. We recognize the importance of collaboration as we work to address this challenge and are thrilled to join the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions to share best practices with others in our industry. As a critical link in the food supply, UNFI is committed to digging in to help find solutions,” said Alisha Real, UNFI director of sustainability and social impact.
The USDA said it has taken significant steps to highlight the need to reduce food waste nationally. In October 2018, the USDA, EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration signed a formal agreement to align efforts across the federal government to educate consumers, engage stakeholders and develop and evaluate solutions to food loss and waste.
The most recent available EPA data estimate that in 2017 more food (over 75 billion pounds) reached landfills and combustion facilities than any other material in everyday trash, constituting 22% of discarded municipal solid waste.
Landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S.
Food waste not only impacts landfill space and emissions, it negatively impacts the economy, the agencies said. The USDA estimates the value of food loss and waste for retailers and consumers each year to be over $161 billion.
Wasted food also results in unnecessary expenditures of U.S. domestic energy resources. Every time food is lost or wasted, all of the energy that went into producing that food is also wasted.